Annal: 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography

Results of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in the year 2010.

Book:Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China

Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China

Hilary Spurling

This is a thrilling portrait of the extraordinary childhood of Pearl Buck, the now-forgotten bestselling Nobel Prize winning novelist.

Pearl Buck was raised in China by her American parents, Presbyterian missionaries from Virginia. Blonde and blue-eyed she looked startlingly foreign, but felt as at home as her Chinese companions. She ran free on the grave-littered grasslands behind her house, often stumbling across the tiny bones of baby girls who had been suffocated at birth. Buck’s father was a terrifying figure, with a maniacal zeal for religious conversion—a passion rarely shared by the local communities he targeted. He drained the family’s budget for his Chinese translation of the New Testament, while his aggrieved, long-suffering wife did her utmost to create a homely environment for her children, several of whom died tragically young. Pearl Buck would eventually rise to eminence…[more]

Book:E.M. Forster: A New Life

E.M. Forster: A New Life

Wendy Moffat

One of the great mysteries in the life of E. M. Forster (1879-1970) is why, after the publication of A Passage to India in 1924, he never published another novel although he lived to be 90. In Wendy Moffat’s biography, based on a lifetime’s dedication to her subject, we gain extraordinary insights into a man with a gift for writing fiction of great humanity, warmth and humour, who realised early that the society of his time would not allow him to publish the fiction he really wanted to write.

At the end of A Passage to India, his readers were left with the melancholy sight of Aziz and Fielding, friends of different races and cultures, riding out of the novel down separate paths. In real life, although frustrated at not being able to write out of his true self—it would not be until after his death that Maurice, his novel of a homosexual affair, would be published—E.M. Forster led a full and energetic life. He was a successful broadcaster, a brilliant essayist (“Abinger Harvest”…[more]

Book:Fordlandia

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City

Greg Grandin

The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon.

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.

Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford’s early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia’s…[more]

Book:A Life in Pictures (Alisdair Gray)

A Life in Pictures

Alasdair Gray

The autobiography in words and pictures of one of Britain’s most fascinating and acclaimed writers and artists, Alasdair Gray.

Alasdair Gray is known throughout the world for his writing, but he is also a highly regarded artist who not only illustrates and designs his own books, but has created many beautiful and intriguing portraits, paintings, posters, and murals. Alasdair started painting and writing from an early age, and in his seventies he’s still vigorously doing both. In this autopictography he gathers together the work that has mattered most to him over the years, and weaves the story of his life through and around these pictures in his own unmistakable style. A beautifully and copiously illustrated book, designed by himself, this is life as seen by one of the millennium’s most entertaining and wry creative geniuses.

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